"Montclair State Was Always in My Life": Maria Schantz '60 MA

Maria Schantz '60 MA

Maria Schantz ’60 MA has been part of the Montclair State community for most of her life. She had good friends, the Bordens, who lived just off Normal Avenue. Her sister, Lois Schantz Sullivan '58, went to Montclair State. “Montclair State was always in my life,” she shares. “As a young woman, I often visited my sister when she was an undergraduate on campus. At the time, I had no idea that Montclair State would play such a pivotal role in my life,” she adds. Her nephew, Kieran Sullivan '01, is also an alumnus. Kieran got married in 2013 and some of his Montclair State friends played music at his wedding.

Maria stated her career as a public school teacher, then came to Montclair State for her master’s degree in English. Once she completed her degree, she joined the faculty. Professor Leonard Buchner '37 '42 MA, who Maria had studied with in her master’s program, asked her to take over some of his reading classes while he was on leave studying at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She started teaching full-time at Montclair State in January of 1964 and stayed until her retirement in 2002. “Thirty-eight years of working with dynamic professors and talented students enabled me to grow and to be a part of the growth of my beloved alma mater,” she says proudly. 

Today, Maria is a proud and fully engaged alumna, a professor emerita, former member of the Alumni Association Board, chairperson of the Montclair State Retirees Group and a board member at large for the Emeriti Association. She also is a loyal donor to her alma mater, and member of the Carpe Diem Society, the University’s planned giving society, and the President’s Club, the University’s leadership giving society. “Montclair State has enriched my life immeasurably,” she says. “I hope that by my giving back, more lives will be enriched by the University.” She was awarded an Alumni Citation Award in 1990. “Montclair State always had a wonderful professional atmosphere as well as a quality of warmth and guidance,” she adds. “As a student, I had excellent faculty. Montclair State always focused on achievement and professionalism and a quality education. It’s important for me to support Montclair State, where I gained so much. It has enhanced my life and I have such positive memories.” 

“How thrilling it was to join my mentors, to assist in the development and implementation of a Master of Arts degree in Reading, to become a Professor of Education and the Director of the Reading and Study Skills Center,” Maria recalls fondly. She worked with incoming freshmen and helped to set up Montclair State’s minor in Reading, the first in the state. As Director of the Reading and Study Skills Center, “I had the opportunity to develop literacy programs that made a difference in the lives of many children and young adults,” she says. She helped create an after school reading program for local kids ages 6-18 to help them improve their reading while working with Montclair State students in the graduate Reading program. “We worked with at least 3,000 kids, helping them to improve their reading,” she adds. “It was a great experience.” 

From left: Mary Derengowski-Stein, William McCreath, and Maria Schantz '60 MA at the Montclair State Retirees Luncheon, June 4, 2013

Maria stays in touch with many of her former students, former colleagues, and fellow members of the Alumni Association Board. She is the chair of the Montclair State University Retirees Group, which she coordinates with Laura E. Woodson '73 MA and Gabriella DiVirgilio. “It’s open to everyone, ‘from groundskeepers to mindsweepers,’” she says with a smile. “It’s so nice to be with the variety of people who have contributed to the University in so many ways.” She also serves on the Emeriti Association as board member at large. “It’s very rewarding,” she says. “It’s intellectually and emotionally stimulating to stay connected with Montclair State.”

Maria also is active as a volunteer with New Jersey City University, her undergraduate alma mater, on the Advisory Board for the Weiss Center for Children and Adolescent Literature, as well as with the New Jersey Explorer Children’s Museum, where she serves on the board and works with fellow alumnus Gary Patnosh '72 '78 MA and Bruce Beaman. “It’s a great love of mine and a great cause.”

“My Montclair State experience has enhanced my life academically, professionally, and personally,” Maria adds. “It has given me the opportunity to do what I love and to share my knowledge with others. In fact, Montclair has had such a positive impact on my life that it is a privilege for me to give back and continue to play an important role in helping to shape the lives of current and future students.”

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